--Photo by Omer van Kloeten
Most of us have the bad habit of using taiko sticks for too long.
If they haven't snapped in half, or got chipped, then why not keep using them, right?
Check for Cracks
Make sure to regularly check the hitting ends of your sticks for flaking. Look at the end of your drum stick straight on (i.e. point the stick at yourself). You might see some cracks between the grains. If so, it's time for that stick to go.
These cracks are little splits in the wood, and the ends of the splits are surprisingly sharp. This means when you hit a drum with them, you're damaging the skins.
Must They Be Thrown Out?
I know it feels bad throwing out a stick on account of a few tiny cracks. It's tough. But damaged skins are far harder to fix/replace than damaged drum sticks.
If you absolutely don't want to throw away a pair of sticks, then one option you could try, is to cover the cracked ends of the stick with a layer of wax (like candle wax). I've seen this done, but it's only a temporary solution, and it can also lead to wax sticking onto your taiko skin.
Some sticks are just hard to make or replace (like big odaiko sticks, or yatai-bayashi sticks). Again, the best option is to replace them when they start cracking, but if you can't get yourself to do it, the wax option might be a choice here.
I rarely used to check my sticks back in the day, and even when I did, I pretended not to see the cracks. Bad idea! I regret it. It can lead to your skins getting scratched, and it can also add to the flaking that occurs in some (not-so-well prepared) skins.
Sticks, unlike the drums, are expendable supplies. Replace them when the time comes- your drums and your drum-playing will be grateful for it.
Here are some other taiko related resources you might find helpful:
Taiko Playing Styles
Why are Taiko Drums So Expensive?
How to Play Taiko Drums
5 Ways to Get Better at Taiko
Finding and Learning Taiko Music
Getting in Taiko Playing Shape
Taiko Drums vs Other Percussion
Where to Get Taiko Drums
How to Make a Happi Coat
How to Make a Taiko Drum
How to Make Handles on a Taiko Drum
How to Make Shime and Oke Taiko Heads
How to Make Taiko Skin (Drum Heads from Cow Hide
How to Make Practice Taiko Drums
How to Paint a Taiko Drum
How to Make Practice Shime Drums
How to Make Taiko Sticks (Bachi)
How to Make Tire Taiko
How to Raise Money
The TaikoSkin podcast covers a whole range of topics related to taiko- building drums, starting groups, getting performances offers, going to grad school. Just about anything really. Download them in the iTunes store, or find all of the episodes here.